How to Cope with the Post-Holiday Blues
A trail of brown needles leads out to the curb where the Christmas tree, once fragrant and green, lies wilted and dying. Unplugged are the brightly colored lights and, along with the treasured decorations, boxed up and stored away. Gone too, are family and friends. And where so recently nights were filled with gala social gatherings, the only thing left on many to-do lists is return gifts and mop up.
To top it off, in many parts of the country dreary, gray days lengthen into cold, dark nights.
No wonder so many people find themselves at a loss once the holiday season is over. The Post-Holiday Blues—feelings of sadness, of let-down, of depression—are not at all uncommon this time of year.
As the name implies, these blues are seasonal and are likely to disappear as the routine of daily life sets in again and things get back to normal. But the symptoms are real and can make a return to that ordinary rhythm hard to come by.
Symptoms of the Post-Holiday Blues can include feelings of fatigue or lethargy, an increased need for sleep, a lack of interest in activities and a sense of loss or sadness. To help get through this time, here are some things you can do:
- Extend the time of giving by continuing to be generous. With so many new toys, children can clean out their toy boxes and closets and give to a charity or church those which they no longer use or want. Adults can do the same with clothes, household items or their own “toys.”
- Recount the good times by writing thank you notes. Handwritten notes acknowledging the gift of time shared can be meaningful too – for the writer as well as the recipient.
- Instead of putting this year’s holiday pictures away in a drawer along with all those other photos of years gone by, set aside the time to put them in a holiday scrapbook. Make it a family project.
- When the weather permits, take walks outside. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, exercise inside. Put on some music and dance with yourself.
- Every day schedule in a pleasant activity for yourself. Even if it’s only a hot bath or a half-hour with a favorite book.
- Bring beauty into your home and your life. Taking down the holiday decorations can make a place feel dull and empty. Fill it up again with art, candles, flowers, bowls of fruit.
- Plan a trip or a project. Working on something and making plans gives you something to look forward to.
- Volunteer for activities through one of your favorite organizations.
- Recognize that this time and these feelings too shall pass, as the night to day and winter to spring.
However, feelings beyond “the blues” or feelings that are more debilitating, or that extend much beyond the post-holidays, may signal depression. Seek help when you need it. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone.